Municipal Band

And the band plays on.....and on.....and on!

June, July, August, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 and Sunday afternoons at 2pm

The longest, continuous performing Municipal Band in Missouri!

Information and pictures taken from the booklet "The Band Plays On, 100 Years of the El Dorado Springs Municipal Band" published in 1985 by the Preserve Our Past Society (POPS). Copies of this booklet are still available for purchase at the Wayside Inn Museum or El Dorado Springs Chamber of Commerce for $2.

The Osage Indians knew of the healing qualities of the Spring water, as did local settlers. News of Mrs. Hightower's miraculous cure after camping by the spring quickly spread, and a city sprang up, incorporated around the spring and park in 1881. Bathhouses, hotels, retail businesses and churches were quickly built to accommodate the health seekers. Opera houses, a skating rink and swimming pool were developed later for the recreation of tourists and residents, but the earliest recreation revolved around the park.

Around 1885 or 1886, a group of men headed by C.V. Mickey formed a band called the "Wonder City Rube Band" and began what has become a 100-year long (+) tradition of band concerts in Spring Park.

Five years after the city's founding, $3000 was approved by the voters for the park improvements, including the first bandstand. A square 2-story structure with elaborate lattice work was built, slightly north and east of the present bandstand. It was first used by the band in 1887.

Length of the band season and length and number of concerts changed many times. In 1895 the band played four months, three times a week, with two hour concerts and members were paid $50 a month. All money was by public donation.

A.M. "Professor Henry" was a popular director and the band was popularly called "Henry's Park Band." Under his leadership in 1899, the band schedule was for five months of concerts. Henry manufactured cigars in the off season.

A new bandstand was built in 1901 and official uniforms were provided the 10-member band. A play presented with local talent in February of 1901, "Millie, the Quadroon" or, "Out of Bondage" was held at the courthouse, with proceeds going to the band.

About this time a composer wrote the music to "El Dorado March." Both the music and the name of the composer have since been lost.

The band was called on numerous times when special events were going on, such as greeting the first train to arrive in El Dorado Springs in 1898, a gala event at the Grand Central Hotel in 1899, and escorting the first auto through town in 1908. It made its first radio broadcast in Salina, Kansas and played at the dedication of the band shell at Ft. Scott, Kansas. The Park Band became goodwill ambassadors for the city.

The years of World War I found many of the community's men in Europe, but the band played on! Names of several different directors who guided the men available to play have been lost.

At the end of the war there was quite a celebration in the park, with a band concert on Main Street, church bells ringing, sirens, shotgun blasts (until the hardware stores ran out of ammunition) and the drum corps from the band marching up and down the streets.

Women first played in the band in 1919 and in 1925, director D.I. Netherow formed a women's band called the American Maiden's Band.

In 1929, the community at large began to support the band financially. A 2 mill band tax was approved by the voters, after El Dorado Springs' own Senator Snodgrass introduced a bill before the Missouri Legislature to allow this special city "band tax."

By 1936, its 50th anniversary, the Municipal or Park band had become more than a tradition, it had become a symbol of El Dorado Springs itself.

Soon after the Band turned 50, a new bandstand was built. True to their concern for the City Park, a round structure was built in order to save surrounding trees. Julian Richards designed and built it with rock work by H.W. Schwalm. The domed sandstone building which stands today was completed in 1937. In keeping with tradition, the the bandstand's foundation became a community project. People were invited to contribute rocks for it. Pieces of broken pottery from China, petrified wood from Bates County, marbles and a large round rock with quartz in it lie among the sandstone base.

The Second World War in Europe and Asia didn't stop music during the 1940's. Under the direction of John Davis, the Band played on.

In 1940, band concerts were reduced from 5 to 4 a week and 1960 further reduced to 3 per week. In 1959, the City Band tax was lowered to 1 1/2 mills. Just a year later, some citizens opposed to the band tax, petitioned the City to abolish it altogether. The band was saved.

The band played a very large part in the 1981 Centennial pageant "Rusty Jugg Reflections." It provided background music while the 100 member cast acted out the history of the town, beginning with the Indians, Mrs. Hightower's cure, and proceeding to the present. One highlight was the tightrope act by Randy Schwalm and Greg Ortlip while the band played "The Man on the Flying Trapeze"-a tribute to the Huff brothers and their high wire act. Another highlight was when trombone player Teressa Biddlecome approached the bandstand playing "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better," signifying the 1919 date for the first woman to play in the band. Theme music to "Rusty Jugg Reflections" was written and arranged by Nick Sibley.

A long time member and band promoter, Judge W.W. Sunderwirth, took over as director in 1966. Sunderwirth, whose last concert was in 1979, holds the record for years as director (as of the writing in 1980). His wife, Lillian, continued to manage the band, organizing music and concert dates and keeping records. Gary Hardison directs the band. It has become a tradition for the band to end each concert with "God Bless America."


1887 C.V. Mickey 1918-25 Dr. D.I. Netherow 1945-46 Kenneth Allen

1895 George Woodall 1926-27 Mr. Gray 1947 Bill Laws

1896 C.V. Mickey 1928 Lendon Enloe 1948-50 Joe D. Andrea

1897-98 Professor A.M. Henry 1929 Emil Crawford 1951-57 Vernon Wade

1901 George Woodruff 1930 Lendon Enloe 1958-59 Carl Schecker

1902 Charles Neff 1931 Dr. D.I. Netherow 1960-61 Mr. Hathaway

1903 Professor A.M. Henry 1932-33 W.W. Wick 1962-65 Tom Glascock

1904-11 Charles Neff 1934-43 John Davis 1966-79 W.W. Sunderwirth

1912 Everett Suggs 1944 Mr. Vernon 1980 Gary Hardison

1913-17 Unknown

The original bandstand was built in 1887. The Band first played in the top floor under the direction of C.V.l Mickey

The "Wonder City Rube Band" in 1886

The Band in front of the first bandstand in 1899


"Professor" Henry's Band in the Nevada City Park in 1899

The Band in one of the first cars in El Dorado Springs


American Maidens Band May 10, 1925

The Band in 1932 in uniform

The Band in 1930 in front of the second bandstand

Taken about 1920

Judge W.W. Sunderwirth in 1934

The Municipal Band in 1936-about this time, young people performed in the Band for the first time.

Members of the 1958 Municipal Band (not all were present): Carl Schecker, director, John Dancy, Sherry Green, Celia Hoffman, Don Sieberns, Barbara Schecker, Nalleyn Jones, Connie Adams, Pat Hill, Raymond Swindler, Marcella Collins, Susan Petkoff, Carol Sherman, John Thomas, Fred Rector, Kenny Hardison, Iris Banks, Tom Gammon, Charles Spicer, Judy Bender, Billy Bishop, Carolyn Gibbs, Lola Yarnell, Phyllis Rosbrough, Margaret Swindle, Judge W.W. Sunderwirth, Jeannie McCullick, Jim Marcum, Bill Hutsell, Loretta Harnbeck, Peggy Bowen, Carolyn Spencer, Mary Marcum, Carter May, Paul Mann, John Atwell and Sterling James.

Taken in the late 1960's or early 1970's

The Band sometime during the 1950's. Othel Gibbs, third from the left in the back row, played in the band off and on from the 1920's until his death in 1983.

The Band in front of the bandstand during the 1940's